A guide to carbon monoxide...

Carbon monoxide poisoning
Long term symptoms and effects (part 2)

A good number of survivors are aware of at least some of the symptoms and effects from their carbon monoxide poisoning.

Other survivors may only be aware of a smaller number of symptoms and effects but are never-the-less being impacted in ways they have yet to recognize.

Still other survivors may say they feel "ok" but are in fact being impacted in ways they are unaware of, unwilling to admit to, or unable to express.

In all there are four groups of carbon monoxide poisoning survivors.

It takes watchful informed family members, friends, and observers to notice behavioral changes in a survivor and understand that the changes began after the carbon monoxide poisoning and are likely connected to it. These may well be behaviors that the survivor themself is unable to notice or admit to.

Unfortunately, if a survivor behaves in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable way, it is [much] more common for family, friends, and coworkers to feel disappointed, then as additional things happen feel annoyed, escalating to anger, and finally if it continues, backing away from the relationship.

Seldom do those close to a survivor understand that it is the ongoing effects from carbon monoxide poisoning that continue to impact the survivors behavior, functioning, and their relationship.

Things like missed appointments, forgotten special occasions, incomplete work, seemingly inappropriate behavior, mood instability, selfish/impulsive behavior, and unfamiliar reactions may baffle, frustrate, and annoy those around the survivor.

It may take time for those close to the survivor to understand that although the survivor may look "normal", sound "normal", and appear "normal", they have in fact changed and are behaving [somewhat] differently. Many may never recognize the reason for the change.

Even though carbon monoxide poisoning statistics are up to debate, the impact on the life of an unknown percentage of survivors is not. The long term effects of carbon monoxide poisoning can create circumstances that trigger a downward spiral in the life of a survivor. This further impacts the survivor and those close to them.

It is well known that major accidents, health challenges, and especially brain injuries create stressors on individuals and families that [can] significantly increase turmoil and tension within a household. These stressors set the stage for major life changes and the need to deal with some of the most stressful things that can happen to person: family breakup, moving homes, changes to friendships, job loss/change, and financial upheaval.

For a survivor this additional upheaval may occur at a time when they are having subtle or even serious difficulty with day-to-day functioning.

Sadly, a survivor and their family may never connect the dots and understand that carbon monoxide poisoning was the underlying cause that triggered the life changes.

Even for a fully healthy person, major life changes such as these are extremely stressful.

Stress causes the body to produce a substance called cortisol which helps restore balance to a variety of functions within the body and brain, particularly after the stress is gone.

Extended periods of stress cause destructive amounts of cortisol to be produced. This is damaging to a healthy person, it is unimaginably brutal on top of the kind of damage caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. The last thing a survivor needs is more strain on an already weakened brain and body.

Ongoing stress further impacts the brain, nervous system, endocrine system, heart and more. It increases the risk of heart attack and can extend, complicate, or even reverse the progress of an already long recovery.

Long term effects can impact physical, mental, behavioral, relationships, and work and career functioning.

Your comments about carbon monoxide poisoning...

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Feeling much better after 3.5 years
Worst experience ever. My heart rate goes up just thinking about it.

I got poisoned working as a chemist. Headache, memory loss, depression (unusual for me) followed by severe anemia and tinnitus. I developed so many chemical sensitivies and was tired all the time, so went back to school to switch fields. Was so scared I would never be able to think again, and sought many different types of treatment. Many of you might relate, I am usually skeptical but was desperate to see if the chronic fatigue and headaches could go away.

Acupuncture helped me to feel better. It got rid of the headaches, plus I was getting sick constantly and that was able to help. Also, I tried this: http://www.dnrsite.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=105-G&Category_Code=BS&Product_Count=6
through a naturopathic doctor's recommendation. I think it helped me to feel better.

It took a few years but 3 years after the initial incident I started to feel like myself again. My husband thinks maybe it takes a long time for damaged brain membranes to heal, but I am optimistic things will continue to be all right.

ann park from bispham blackpool
Approximately in 1990 we my husband son daughter and myself suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty gas fire over a period of time.we all seem to be suffering from acute short term memory loss my age 72yrs,husbands 63,sons 43 and daughters 41yrs of age? I was working as a laboratory assistant at a school again being subject to accidental gas leakage ammonia I believe.

resiual risk of a home contaminated with co gas
anthony knight from ontario canada
Would one be at any risk of co poisoning in a home that a family were poisoned with co gas ?

acceptance may be the best solution
Leo from Pleasant Valley, New York
kristy asked what kind of doctor does she see about her co poisoning. I guess it would depend upon a few factors- how long ago the poisoning occurred and to what degree, the extent of the brain damage, her age- that sort of thing. A neurologist is probably tops on the list of doctors that we need. My contact with co was decades ago- and MY OWN experience has shown me that there are no easy solutions to our issues- and no difficult solutions either! Adaptation has been my key to enjoying life- learning how best to live with the memory issues and then moving on. Make no mistake about it- I am plagued every day by my inability to remember- however I have been this way for so long that at some point I just accepted that this is the way I am to be and have moved on

side effects
kristy from mt pleasant mich
I too have side effects from c o. what type of dr do I see. thanks kristy

dr referral for co poisening
kristy from mt pleasant mich
Im having issues from the co poisening and cant find a dr for that. can you recommend one for me. thanks kristy

It all makes sense now!
Lisa Smith from Brownstown, MI.
I always knew that something was not right ever since the Co2 episode but now is is all clear. This is what I experienced every Oct.-March for about 3-4 years from 2003-2006. Head aches(was told it was migraines), shortness of breath(was told it was allergy related asthma), heart palpitations( was told that it was not uncommon), dizziness ( was told that it was my diet) no energy, always tired and achy( was told that I needed more exercise), moody(was told it was age related) started forgetting the names of people that I had known for years and see/talk to on a daily basis but the day that I couldn't remember my own address, at all, and wrote down a 15 year old address, I thought I was losing my mind. A friend suggested that we get a co2 detector, which I thought was crazy but did it any way. Put in the batteries and within 1 minute it sounded of and we found out that there was a plugged duct from the furnace to the chimney that had been building up for probably about 3 to 4 years. After that time, my husband and I divorced, which many people could not understand because we had been the perfect couple and I often find myself saying that I don't know what happened but something changed us ( now I know...) Today, 2012, I have several difficulties with retaining memory. I often have to ask the same question several times, In mid sentence I draw a blank for a word that I know I want to use but I can't come up with it...this makes me so angry! I turn numbers around, I forget or don't remember talking to someone that I just talked to an hour ago. I even thought that I was going crazy or had ADHD so I went to a psychiatrist that diagnosed me with depression, which I don't exactly agree with, I also continue to have achy limbs and joints. I am a huge advocate for everyone to have a co2 detector in their homes!!! It is great to see and read the information on this website. Thank you so much!
Lisa Smith

Debbie from Fort Morgan, Colorado
I am sitting here in tears because I finally have an answer to what has been taking place in my life over the past couple of years! I think my slow poisoning began in 2009 or 2010 because now I realize that is when many of the symptoms described began in my life. Then I couldn\'t figure out why during the winter months I just didn\'t have any energy when I was at home, all I wanted to do was sit on the couch or sleep. I felt depressed, but that was something that I have never had an issue with ever before. My relationships with my friends changed because I would just change into a really mean person sometimes, saying things or doing things that I never would have ever done before! In November 2011 I was in between jobs, was home all day and it was cold out so our furnace was on. Normally at nite we would turn the furnace down and sleep with a window open in our room, which I now credit for saving our lives! During this off time at home, I developed flu- like symptoms and I was mad because I had had a flu shot in oct. One evening I started to spiral downward in health. I was getting ready for bed and suddenly I could feel myself slipping \"down the drain\" I could feel my blood pressure slipping and I couldn\'t get my breath. I told my husband to take me to the ER. My pressure was very low and my O2 sats were in the 70\'s. I was diagnosed with pneumonia even tho I didn\'t feel like I had that. I was admitted to the hospital. & began to feel so much better! I had energy and could breathe again. Two days later I went home and three days later I awoke with the worst headache of my life! I again went to the ER. Numerous tests later and pain meds I was sent home. That is when my son brought over a CO 2 detector and it went off on all levels of our house. We immediately shut the furnace off and found out that we had a cracked heat exchanger. So..I started a new job not too long after all that. I started noticing that my memory was horrible, even trouble remembering things from just a few hours before. My spelling, which has always been impeccable, has suffered. I really have to think about what I am trying to spell and even that doesn\'t always help. My coordination is off. I have a hard time judging distance and I will run into objects on one side or the other. I have some confusion I notice that I have to really force myself to do things or to be motivated. I couldn\'t for the life of me figure out what was happening to me. I have even considered not doing my job anymore because it scares me that I may harm someone because of this inability to remember important things that I used to not have a problem with. Has made me very sad. Thank you for this opportunity to finally validate what has been happening to me.

Chris from Denver
My family and I suffered chronic carbon monoxide poisoning for several years. We found out after exhibiting all the classic symptoms; (nausea, lethargy, "cherry-red" lips, headaches, breathlessness), because my husband had a dream that our furnace was "an evil, fire-breathing dragon." Public Service came out the next day and condemned our cracked furnace.

It took at least six months to fully regain our strength. We all suffer memory problems, multiple chemical sensitivities, and food sensitivities that we didn't have before. In addition, my youngest son has very high functioning autism that we believe stems from the poisoning.

Fae from Arizona
Our family experienced carbon monoxide poisoning from Oct 1975 to Jan 1977, when we all almost died. This article is the first confirmation of what I\'ve been through and now knowing I am not crazy!

Yes, it has been many years and I\'ve lived a different life than most around me. Recently, I am experiencing some new problems and suspect it is my heart but according to doctors, I have a strong and healthy heart. None the less, I know something is wrong. Just like in the past, I do my own research and do what I can to make myself better. Who can afford all the testings that a doctor wants to put you through and then to tell you they don\'t find anything wrong?

Thanks for all who have shared...it\'s good to hear from each of you.

Jill Sturdivant from Texas
My family and I suffered carbon monoxide poisining 3 years ago. We all started to have symtoms a few months later.I am 27 years old and I have toe cramps in cold water, my memory is awful, I have had chest pains, stress, lack of sleep, anxiety. I have terrible spelling,grammer, and things I do are out of sequence. These things all happened in the first year of the poisining, but continue to get worse. In the past few months my joints have began to hurt. My wrist and my arm become weak and have sharp pains if I do an activity for longer than a few minutes..I'm very scared and worried about my future health..does anyone have any advice or have had any of these problems.

Michelle from Illinois
I have been though hell over the past several years. We discovered our leak from the furnance in spring of 2010. We moved here to this house in fall 2006. From 2006 to the present has been a living nightmare. I say \"we\" because I have children who were affected also. The furnace was right under their room! Both me and my children have suffered from depression and mood disorders. We all wanted to kill ourselves! Such anger was always usually present. I could care less if I ever eat again and my children have eating problems, too. I suffer most because of my depression I became isolatecd and hardly never went anywhere other than taking my children places and going to the store. I was sucking the gas up constantly! I was too sick to work, got fired from 3 different jobs (I couldn\'t even remember my employee number to punch in to work and numerous other things. I filed for disability and won. That was before we even found the leak! I even went to the hospital with dizzy spells, nausea and vomiting disorientation and they told me I was dehydrated! It happen THREE times. Maybe those were really cold days because they were in the months of Jan-March. It all makes sense now! We found our leak because other people who spent more than four hours at our house I noticed were all sick when they left! My boyfriends mother stayed the night to babysit and the next morning she was not feeling well and wanted to go to the ER! I have memory and concentration problems, balance problems, stomach problems, chronic cough, weakness, no energy and cannot do too much in one day. I will never be the same person I was and I cannot get anyone to listen to me. I\'m glad you understand my life as it is today. It\'s been two years since we got the leak fixed and I\'m still the same. My children seem to not have lasting efffects except my four year old. She was born into this house and she is behind for her age. She\'s in a \"special needs\" class at the local school to help her get \"caught up\" (if she can?). She was home with me sucking up the gas all day and night. I could go on more but this is long as it is. Thanks for understanding my friends....

migraine auras
Jude from Australia
I was seriously poisoned as a 7 or 8 year old, was in hospital for about 2 wks, and for I think for about 3 days of that was unconscious, bad headaches on waking, nausea etc. Was very bright child with extraordinary memory prior to event, but have had vague neuro problems since some time in teen years, but did not make connection till now, (am nearly 50 yrs now) recently started being diagnosed with significant migrane auras, but no demyelination detected, also heart murmur detected at 13 yrs, which has since resolved but been recognised again sporadically, I have lived with intermittent depression all my adult life. Does this concur with any one elses story???

Trying to understand
Jeanine from Illinois
For over a month I have been living upstairs from a family member who was burning the stove to heat their place and using a fan to blow the it up to where I was sleeping. I started to wakeup with headaches and my breathing start to change, I know something was wrong but didn't know what util I plugged in a CO detector. They have since fixed the heat, but I still have headaches when I wake and find myself having deeper sleep and unwanted naps during the day. My classes start in a month I hope this has no affect on it.

Christine from Ohio
On my bad days from the carbon monoxide poisoning I have a time remembering anything. I will forget a whole morning. I forget to eat. I forget my own phone number on my bad days. I have to keep my cell phone next to me so if I have an emergency that I can dial. Otherwise I would be in trouble. I also have this ear popping thing that annoys me since the carbon monoxide it sounds like popcorn popping in the ear.

My brain that said was damaged from the carbon monoxide. It is very hard on my bad days to do a lot. Even making phone calls and talking down the number. I end up writing it backwards I have to go slow and take my time with it..

I have permanent neuro symptoms from mine.

...at last, the answer!!
Sandra Hiser from Livermore, CA
I have been spending thousands of dollars on trying to figure out why I am depressed, lethargic, forgetful, anxious and have become a hermit in the last two years. Previously, I was fully engaged in life.

We recently found out the furnace has been leaking carbon monoxide for many years. At last, it makes sense. Thanks for this website....it covers more symptoms and solutions than anywhere else.

The hairs on the back of my neck are standing up
Holy crap this exactly nails what happened to me like nothing else I have ever read. I was poisoned years ago.

My life blew apart in the years following poisoning and I was unable to make sense of why. All I knew is that almost everything changed.

I had a stable life, friends, job, and relationship then everything changed within 3 years of being poisoned - and they were not easy changes - they were really rough.

This is amazing...I was posioned 28 years ago and my memory has been terrible since then.

I never connected the dots, but to this day I have trouble remembering things as recent as hours before.

Rebecca from Georgia
I feel like I'm reading about myself, my job, my friends and family. Luckily, we were somewhat aware I was getting sick. After 3 years of torturous recovery, I'm more like myself than ever, but I'll never be the same. I have permanent neurological symptoms.

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